Film Reviews


By • Apr 6th, 2007 •

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The Weinstein Co. / Dimension Films
Running time — 191 minutes / MPAA rating: R

Death Proof was sensational. If only Rose McGowan could act.

“Entertainment Weekly’s” cover story on GRINDHOUSE announced: “Tarantino and Rodriguez Team Up. Can America Hack It?” Steven Spielberg makes movies for America. No one expects Tarantino and Rodriguez to be courting mainstream America.

GRINDHOUSE is not a film for blue-haired ladies and people who expect movies to have a “socially-redeeming message.” If you are over 50 years old, T & R did not make this movie for you. Hollywood makes movies like HOLIDAY for you. If you don’t understand zombie movies, stay away.

Unless, of course, Rodriguez’s PLANET TERROR is a metaphor for the war in Iraq.

So, since I believe T & R made GRINDHOUSE for someone like me, I’ll say that, excusing Tarantino’s insistence on acting, and his trademark “Travolta-Jackson chatter” which is very lame here – Tarantino does not know how women talk in private – I loved GRINDHOUSE for what is was – a B-movie with an A-movie gore-filled CGI budget written and directed by talented filmmakers.

If only Rose McGowan could act.

GRINDHOUSE, as you all know by now, is a double-bill, 3 hour-11 minute feature with fake “Coming Attractions” and intentionally lousy, dirty print quality, with scratches and missing reels.

Rodriguez’s PLANET TERROR opens GRINDHOUSE. It’s a creepy, pus-oozing zombie movie without much substance except when Rose McGowan straps on that machine gun to her amputated leg. Something bad has leaked out of a military base in Texas. The quick-spreading disease maybe acts on anger or a temperature rise, since a doctor, Dr. William Block (Josh Brolin), keeps checking the thermometer in his mouth as he examines blood-oozing patients.

So far, the only antidote lies in the few that haven’t caught the virus yet. Block’s wife, Dr. Dakota Block (Marley Shelton) has been cheating on him and he decides to punish her in appropriate zombie fashion. The best role goes to McGowan as go-go dancer Cherry. Her former boyfriend Wray (tiny Freddie Rodriguez – filling in for director Rodriguez as his cinematic stand-in) is some kind of super villain gunsmith. He’s the one who, after Cherry gets her leg chewed off by zombies, creates a machine-gun prosthetic for her to wear. Once Shelton rips off her doctor’s coat and her eye make runs down her face, she rules.

(The New York Post’s Page Six reported that Rodriguez filed for divorce from his wife and long-time producer Elizabeth, whom he has been married to for 16 years, in favor of McGowan. Rodriguez also has five children with Elizabeth [their youngest son is in the film]. Though strongly denied by publicists, Rodriguez and McGowan were allegedly having an on-set affair and Elizabeth found out. Things got ugly fast.)

Tarantino’s DEATH PROOF – if you disregard the lame “Sex and the City” chatter – is terrific. He’s Sam Fuller with lots of money to spend. And yes, thank goodness Tarantino resurrected Snake Pliskin – as a happy-mad serial killer.

Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) notices a group of women in an Austin bar. One is kind of famous in the area, bare-footed Jungle Julia (Sydney Tamiia Poitier), a radio host. Also in the bar is wig-wearing Pam (non-acting Rose McGowan). She asks Stuntman Mike for a ride home. They go left. Then Stuntman Mike goes after the other girls in his death proof car. At a high speed, he slams his car into theirs. It’s worth the GRINDHOUSE ticket price. Stuntman Mike lands up in the hospital being looked after by the Blocks.

Released, Stuntman Mike finds another group of women on movie location led by makeup artist Abernathy (Rosario Dawson), ingénue actress Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and stunt women Kim (Tracie Thoms) and Zoe (Zoe Bell).

In their car chatter, Abernathy ridicules her current no-sex boyfriend for having slept with Darryl Hannah’s stunt double (in fact, Zoe Bell was Uma Thurman’s stunt double in KILL BILL 1 & 2)! Apparently, stunt double f**king is akin to sleeping with the caterer on a film set.

Kim and Zoe decide to take out a vintage car to do some highly dangerous driving. Unfortunately for them, Stuntman Mike is tracking them and decides to use his car to kill them. This is exciting stuff. Kim and Zoe are hyped up to not only fight him off, but then go after him. This is definitely worth the price of a ticket.

While it would be hard to sit through PANET TERROR again, I’m going back to see DEATH PROOF. Tarantino can do no wrong – unless he decides to film a romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore. Sydney Tamiia Poitier nearly stole DEATH PROOF from the other actresses until unknown Zoe Bell overtook her. And Rose McGowan? Well, this is a giant leap for her from appearing naked on the red carpet at the MTV Awards with then-boyfriend Marilyn Manson. And she got herself an “A” list director to boot.

Will the 3hr. 11 minute running time hurt GRINDHOUSE? If I factor in that the price of an evening movie ticket is $9.75, do I want to see an 83 minute movie or a 3 hour movie? From which movie am I getting my money’s worth? How about 2 movies for the price of one? Who could possibly be against this? Old people who need to use the restroom after 85 minutes? Perhaps our collective attention span is being altered by 10 minute videos and cellphone recording capacity. If an actor gets paid $20 million I want him to do the stunts, the running, the fighting, and, most important, give me as much of his time as possible.

Credits: Screenwriter-director-music: Robert Rodriguez
Producers: Robert Rodriguez, Elizabeth Avellan
Executive producers: Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein
Production designers: Steve Joyner, Caylah Eddleblute
Special makeup effects: Greg Nicotero
Costume designer: Nina Proctor
Editors: Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis

Cast: Cherry: Rose McGowan
Dr. Dakota Block: Marley Shelton
Wray: Freddie Rodriguez
Dr. William Block: Josh Brolin
Tammy: Stacy Ferguson
Abby: Naveen Andrews
Sheriff Hague: Michael Biehn

Credits: Screenwriter/director/director of photography: Quentin Tarantino
Producers: Quentin Tarantino, Erica Steinberg
Executive producers: Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein
Production designer: Steve Joyner, Caylah Eddleblute
Special makeup effects: Greg Nicotero
Stunt coordinator: Jeff Dashnaw
Music: Robert Rodriguez
Costume designer: Nina Proctor
Editor: Sally Menke

Cast: Stuntman Mike: Kurt Russell
Jungle Julia: Sydney Tamiia Poitier
Arlene: Vanessa Ferlito
Shanna: Jordan Ladd
Kim: Tracie Thoms
Abernathy: Rosario Dawson
Zoe: Zoe Bell
Lee: Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Pam: Rose McGowan
Dov: Eli Roth
Nate: Omar Doom

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